“I wrote that song very jokingly kind of to myself, and didn’t ever take it very seriously, and didn’t ever push to get it on any of the records. I wrote it pretty early on in the world of the Dresden Dolls, but I didn’t push to get it on the second Dresden Dolls record. It was always this joke-aside song that I had in the pile. It was more of a concept of a really happy, poppy, jaunty song about to not know, in a very specific teenage way, when the shit is really hitting the fan, but you’re bouncing along going, “Oh, no! It’s fine! Everything’s great!” I wanted the song to be a happy little three-chord jam where I could make the lyrics as disturbingly sticky-sweet as possible. The complaint was that they thought I was making light of rape and abortion. They weren’t upset that I was singing about it. They were upset that I was making light of it. Very strange, though, to be coming from the UK, which is land of parody and sarcastic humor. I think the painful thing about it, and the reason that it probably rubs people the wrong way, is that the truth hurts. And there’s something about that song that really is painfully true. Anybody who has ever talked to a 15-year-old who’s having problems with sex and drugs, but is fully out to lunch, can attest to that.”Amanda Palmer (11)


“I’m pretty sure the seed of “Ampersand” was just the image of the ampersand as a symbol that happens to people when they cease being Mary, and they’re always John & Mary. They turn into this really irritating relationship people who’ll only ever say “we,” even in terms of, “Yeah, we really like the movie, but we weren’t really sure about…” And those people drive me so fucking crazy. And in my life, there was that, “I don’t ever want to just be Amanda & Neil,” and “Maybe they should send their book over to Amanda & Neil.” That concept terrifies me, because I’m so staunchly independent. But it also seems deeper than this, because at the time of that song, I was single, I had hit 30, and I was finding myself in a really defensive position, probably of my own making. I started to sort through the cultural noise, what it meant to choose to be single, and to choose my path as not the relentless crunch to find some magic other person to complete me. I had been single for long enough that I sat myself down for a year or so and said, “If you’re looking for a relationship, and don’t even know that you are, are you looking to a relationship as what has been mandated as what you have to do to be happy?” And I was really, really thinking deeply about this, because I had looked around a lot, and I was like, Wow, I’ve been single for 3 years. I might like to be in a relationship. But actually, I’m really happy. I love my friends, I love my life. I’m not in a relationship, and yet I feel this weird pressure from culture as a whole, from my parents, saying, “But you won’t be truly happy until you find that special someone.” And I don’t know if I buy it. I sat down and thought about it long and hard; do I buy it? Or is it possible to be alone and truly happy? That song came out of that deliberation. I was also leaving my band, and that was like going through a divorce. It was the same death of painful separation that, no matter how good or bad the relationship is, no matter how good the highs are and how bad the lows are, at a certain point you just get so used to being in the relationship that when you leave it, you’re just reeling. Because all of the sudden, the person isn’t there. And that’s fucking hard to do. And so I was dealing with that aspect of my relationship with Brian, and overall thoughts about relationships and whether it was even a road I wanted to go down. All of that stuff was swirling around and plonking into “Ampersand”.”Amanda Palmer (11)

Strength Through Music

“When Columbine happened I was really affected. Everyone in the world and all over the country was really affected by it. But I had a special interest in it that didn’t go away. I encounter so many really disturbed, angry, lonely, frustrated teenagers, because of what I do. And I think what Marilyn Manson said in Bowling For Columbine was brilliant. I was so upset, especially having been a misfit in high school. I think it was really upsetting for people to look at these kids being so demonized with so little thought given to the larger questions. And my imagination was really captured by what the quality of these boys’ lives were like, as they were sitting in their rooms playing video games and plotting this catastrophe. It really was my view of the whole thing, and my emotional impulse was to actually feel real sympathy for them, because I see so many kids feeling so misunderstood, and the culture around them is so hostile. Not to say that what they did wasn’t completely abhorrent. But on the other hand, when you’ve got a culture of 15-year-old kids going around shooting each other, you need to ask yourself bigger questions. And I think people are really afraid to ask those questions, which is: what’s their cultural diet? And why would this happen?”Amanda Palmer (11)